tv Interview with Jeff Mason CSPAN April 29, 2017 1:37pm-1:45pm EDT
what have been the biggest challenges? mr. mason: it is the main interlock or between the press corps in the white house. we serve in that role and started with the new trump administration. the biggest challenges have been that adjustment, a new administration comes in with new priorities and less experience. and newegg is good we have had to talk to them about the needs of the press corps. we have also developed a good working relationship with president trump's team. that has led to some successes. there were certainly battles i did not expect to fight. we had a discussion about that and we're still there. the pool is flying on air force one. >> let me ask you about the
briefings and the debriefing room. that is midway between the west wing of the white house itself. why is it so important to be in that location? to beson: it is critical present when things happen at the white house when the president decides to speak to the press. we're right there. if he has arose -- if he has a meeting with the foreign president, we are right there. we're right there. being at the white house shows the transparency that is protected by the constitution, by the first amendment. coming through the gates of the white house every day to report, to shed light, are all things that are protected by the first amendment. the best way to fulfill those responsibilities is to be in the press room so close to where he is doing his work. >> tensions between the press and the presidency, not new. it dates back to george washington.
is it any different with this president? i would like to say there has been tension for decades or longer. that is an inherent part of the relationship. it is hard for me to compare this to lots of other administrations where i was not a correspondent. i would say that the tension has been high. the is partially driven by fact that president trump has said in some of his tweets and public remarks very critical things. it is our job to continue doing our jobs regardless of the criticism that comes from the president of the united states. notite some of that insignificant tension, we have worked very hard to develop a good working different -- relationship. you?d that surprise >> it did. we did not have a warning. that tweet was coming.
i certainly knew was a possibility the president would decide not to come to the correspondents dinner. we had discussions about it. i told sean spicer the date of the dinner. he is invited. he would have been welcome. that was his decision to make enough to come. he can speak for himself about the signal he wants to send. we will have the dinner and that is why we are talking today. >> we will be covering the dinner. why do you think he decided not to show up? mr. mason: the reason he gave for his people gave was because of that is -- the relationship with the press. i think they feel his coverage has not been to their liking. i would argue that their presidents dating back to george washington who do not think their coverage has been to their liking. that is part of the gig. i understand there are criticisms, i think it is fair to ask reporters to correct
mistakes. it is our job to provide robust and sometimes critical coverage of the white house and the president. that is what we do. that is not connected to the dinner. i think it is too bad he decided not to come for whatever reason. as i said, we will have the dinner, we are going to highlight the importance of the first amendment. >> a white he's -- a white house of theue said members presidents, the white house staff, he called that unprecedented. mr. mason: i think it is and unfortunate. again, the signal they decided to send with that is only one they can speak to. i think it sends the signal that it is unfortunate. worked reallyhave hard to develop a constructive relationship with this white house. that is something we could've showcased if they had come. it is up to them to make that
decision. it is up to us to continue doing our jobs and we will do that. we will do that at the dinner. >> 2700 people. how did it all come together? explain how you were able to book the headliner. mr. mason: it was a big production to get that many people in the room and to have the entertainment planned. i certainly had a lot of support for that. it is a privilege but also a lot of work. i was looking for a headliner and i was looking for somebody who could bring the entertainment value to the dinner that we like. i want people to come and enjoy themselves. having comedy has become a part of the dinner. i was also looking for somebody who was not going to roast the president. i found somebody who is going to do that very well. >> you also want to focus on the
first amendment. how would you do that? mr. mason: there are a few different things that will highlight it. there will be a big banner on the stage. we'll be talking about it in the video production. we will be talking about it in the remarks on stage. and, i'm happy to say bob woodward will be there. it is a shining example of the importance of good journalism. finally, this is the start of a new administration. presumably, at least three more dinners with president trump. how does the association move ahead? mr. mason: that is a good question. that will be up to my predecessors to help navigate. what we want to do a cigna signal and have sent that signal that he is welcome at the dinner, his staff is welcome. it is possible when there is tension to have a good and
constructive working relationship with staff and with the president. that is something we care about and we are working toward. even as we continue to provide robust coverage of this white house, as we would regardless who is president. that is what we will continue to do. mason, white house reporter for reuters, thank you. mr. mason: my pleasure. >> you can watch the annual white house correspondents dinner live tonight at 9:30 p.m. on c-span. next, more on the dinner and a look at the memorial -- min memorable moments from the past. an upcoming book on the history of white house correspondents dinner's.